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How long is half-day for the interpreting job?
Thread poster: Alexandra Goldburt
Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 01:47
English to Russian
+ ...
Apr 4, 2008

I would like to hear the input from my colleagues on this issue.

I am a court certified Russian interpreter, and I charge per Diem – that is, either for half-day or full day.

I believe it is standard practice among certified interpreters to consider three and a half (3 1/2) hours to be half day, and anything above it full day. I normally give my clients a fifteen minutes grace period - that is, I charge for three hours and forty five minutes as half day. I have talked to a number of my colleagues (certified Russian interpreters) and they either do the same, or even consider half-day to be shorter (three hours only, no grace period). And at least one interpreter told me that she considers any appointment that starts before 12:00 noon and ends any time after 12:00 noon to be a full day - that is, a job that went from 11:00 am till 1 pm is a full day for her.

Now, here is a situation: I did medical interpreting for one agency, and the job lasted four hours. I submitted an invoice for half-day, but they say they can only pay for full day, mentioning that the insurance company will not pay them for the full day.

Now, I had informed all my clients (including this particular agency) in advance, and in writing, that my half-day is three and a half hours.

Am I being unreasonable sticking to my rates? Should I compromise and accept less than I think is due to me just to keep a good client? (This agency has given me quite a number of jobs since 2005).

Looking forward to your thoughtful responses.

Alexandra


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
Clarify Apr 4, 2008

"I did medical interpreting for one agency, and the job lasted four hours. I submitted an invoice for half-day, but they say they can only pay for full day, mentioning that the insurance company will not pay them for the full day."

Could you clarify that?


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:47
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
The other way round? Apr 4, 2008

Alexandra Goldburt wrote:
Now, here is a situation: I did medical interpreting for one agency, and the job lasted four hours. I submitted an invoice for half-day, but they say they can only pay for full day, mentioning that the insurance company will not pay them for the full day.


Hi Alexandra,

I suspect you meant to write exactly the opposite - you charged full-day, and the agency said they could only pay you for a half-day assignment. Please clarify.

Steffen


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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 01:47
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Oops! My bad! Apr 5, 2008

Stephen and Henry are right - I messed up this post!

Yes, I meant that I submitted an invoice for full day, but was told they'll pay for half day.

Moral of the story: always double-check what you write, and double-check again, and then double-check one more time - just in case!

By the way, I have resolved the issue with the agency by now, and they promise to send a check right away. My policy of being very polite, but very firm when dealing with collection issues worked one more.

However, I am still curious to know what other interpreters consider to be full-day and half-day.

Thank you,

Alexandra


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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 10:47
English to Swedish
+ ...
I don’t have any ’half-day’ in my price list! Apr 5, 2008

I charge 1 euro per minute while interpreting and ½ a euro per minute while travelling or on standby.

This is clearly stated in any quotation I issue, and it must be accepted by the client in writing before I leave home.

It is totally irrelevant how the client is reimbursed.

***********************
Sven Petersson
Medical translator
Website: www.svenp.com
***********************


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QUOI  Identity Verified

Chinese to English
+ ...
half day may not be half a day Apr 5, 2008

In this corner of the world and in the context of court interpreting, half day is the period either from 9.30am when courts first open for business to 1.00pm when judges reach for their lunch boxes or from 2.00pm to 4.00pm when courts close for the day.

For all courts/tribunals etc. judicial related work, it's half day minimum, even it's only 10 minutes. If I am booked for a full day job and the case completes in 5 minutes, I still invoice for full day. Court interpreting is never in-and-out.

For other types of interpreting work (excluding conference), I charge a minimum fee (taking into account traveling time etc) usually 3 hours, and then an hourly rate.


[Edited at 2008-04-05 11:10]


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erika rubinstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:47
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
Up to 4 hours. Apr 5, 2008

The standard day is 8 hours, and the half of it is a half day.

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Magdalena Macinska  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:47
English to Polish
+ ...
Half day- four hours Apr 5, 2008

This is what I was taught at the interpreting course at university and this is what is recommended by the Association of Polish Translators and Interpreters.

But is it a standard practice on the Polish market? From reading discussions on different Polish forums for translators I can see that many interpreters charge an hourly rate.

Not only interpreters, also translation agencies vary in this area. Some will charge an hourly rate, some will charge a for two/three hours minimum etc.

I am a young interpreter and I have had some positive experiences, but I must say it is not always easy to stick to a standard that not everybody agrees with.

But it is good to hear that it has worked for you, Alexandra!

Magdalena


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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 01:47
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanking my colleagues for their time Apr 6, 2008

Thanks to all who took their time to reply.

It is very interesting to compare billing practices in USA to those of Sweden, Australia, Germany and Poland - and to discover that the rules of the Courts in Australia work very similar to those of the United States, except here courts start working at 8:30 am, have lunch from noon to 1:30 pm and close at 5 pm.

Thanks again,

Alexandra


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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:47
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
Half Day = 3.5 hours Apr 6, 2008

I regard one working day as 8 hours and I take one lunch break of 30 minutes and two tea-breaks of 15 minuts (+ the usual rest while another person is interpreting, if that is the case).

So I actually treat 3.5 hours as half a day and of course, I do not add charges for 10-15 minutes extra. I also have an hourly rate (depending on situation).

If someone ever asks me to work more than the usual work-day, when on out-station trips, I add every extra hour I have to work. I admit that I avoid working after my work hours as I feel that one work-day of interpretation is quite tiring in itself.


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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 01:47
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you, Ritu Apr 10, 2008

Ritu Bhanot wrote:

I regard one working day as 8 hours and I take one lunch break of 30 minutes and two tea-breaks of 15 minuts (+ the usual rest while another person is interpreting, if that is the case).

So I actually treat 3.5 hours as half a day and of course, I do not add charges for 10-15 minutes extra. I also have an hourly rate (depending on situation).

If someone ever asks me to work more than the usual work-day, when on out-station trips, I add every extra hour I have to work. I admit that I avoid working after my work hours as I feel that one work-day of interpretation is quite tiring in itself.


Belated thanks to Ritu!

So, in India it's 3.5 hours, just as in the U.S.

I avoid working more than full day too, if I can help it - after 7 hours of interpreting, my brain tends to shut itself off...


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:47
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Fatigue considerations + lost opportunity + partnering considerations May 3, 2008

I understand the 3/3.5 standard to apply in the light of fatigue considerations. (This is always based on presence and not on the hours that you speak). That is, an interpreter doesn't always have to be talking during all that time, but may charge an average half-day rate because 3.5 hours may not be that excruciating with a partner. On the other hand, even if he speaks only 2 hours, he may charge half a day for lucrum cessans.

When the working day (6-7 hours in my book) has to be done without a partner, there may be a surcharge. At any rate, this practice can be enforced in Spain. Likewise "overtime" is collected at overtime rates (150%).


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